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Thursday, July 20, 2017


Articles and Presentations

How Decisions Drive Data

Key Takeaway -> Data is collected and analyzed to inform business decisions. If you determine what business decision(s) you want to make, and the priority of these decisions given your goals, then the information requirements for research and analysis become much easier to identify. The more you take a decision-driven, systems-oriented approach the more value you'll get from your data and from decision makers

It is easy to assume that more data is better. The reasoning is that “data drives decisions” so if you have more data, you’ll be able to make better decisions. On the surface this makes sense but we find at Association Laboratory that this approach often creates problems of its own.

Unfortunately, for most strategic decisions this approach results in analysis paralysis. The problem isn’t having data. The problem is having too much data. It is difficult to determine what information you need when you don’t know what you want to do with it.

At Association Laboratory we conduct a wide variety of research and data mining projects and prioritizing what data is collected is a critical aspect of problem diagnosis and research design. In our work with trade and professional associations, we find that deciding what data you need is the last thing that needs to be determined.

Before you decide what data you need, you must determine what decisions you (or your volunteers) want to make with the information.

We use the following path:

  1. Describe what you think the problem is and the impact of the problem on your association.
  2. What decisions are you trying to make to address this problem?
  3. How often are you making these decisions?
  4. What information (or analysis) do you need to make these decisions?
  5. In what form or format do you need this information to aid analysis and communication?

If you focus on problem solving and the decisions necessary to solve the problem, the data decision becomes much, much easier. This has the added benefit of prioritization. You can ask any question you want just not every question. You want to be as focused as possible.

We address some of these issues in our white paper Critical Analysis of Association Research Challenges, located in the Education Section of our website http://associationlaboratory.com/education/articles.asp.

The more you take a decision-driven, systems-oriented approach to problem solving the more value you'll get from your data and from decision makers.

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